Denise Blair MBA, The campaign for Athabasca University 3. Canadian Film Online project 18

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1 A magazine for the Athabasca University community SPRING/summer 2012 No. 5 The campaign for Athabasca University 3 Canadian Film Online project 18 It takes a global village: Abraham Nhial Wei studies with AU from South Sudan 22 Denise Blair MBA, 2010 INSPIRED BY AU TO CREATE A LIFE-CHANGING LEADERSHIP PROGRAM 8

2 About Athabasca University Athabasca University (AU) is Canada s Open University, a worldwide leader in online and distance education based in Athabasca, Alta. We re proud to serve more than 38,000 students in 90 countries with courses and programs in the arts, business, health disciplines, social sciences, sciences and technology. As an open university, we strive to help people overcome the challenges that can prevent them from attending traditional university challenges like family and job responsibilities and not being able to relocate to go to school. Our open admission policy allows anyone 16 or older to study with us as an undergraduate student regardless of their educational history. Open AU: AU news all year round Keep up with the latest AU news all year round with Open AU, the online companion to Open magazine: open-au.com DOWNLOAD the APP Download the Open AU app from itunes. LIKE US ON FACEBOOK facebook.com/athabasca.university FOLLOW US ON Open magazine Open magazine is Athabasca University s magazine for the university community: our students, our alumni, and our partners, staff, faculty and friends. If you re thinking about studying with AU, Open is a great way to get to know us and learn about our achievements, projects, research, events and the people who make it all happen: our outstanding students, alumni, faculty and staff. Open is published twice a year. Creative Director: Nancy Biamonte Editor: Erin Ottosen Design & layout: Sarah Jackson PHOTOGRAPHY: Blaise MacMullin Other photographers as credited. Writers: Diane Morrison Omar Mouallem Cathy Nickel John O Brien Erin Ottosen Comments & inquiries Share your Open magazine comments and inquiries with: Nancy Biamonte Director, Marketing and Communication Open contents may be reproduced by permission with acknowledgement of Athabasca University. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement # Undeliverable copies may be directed to: Athabasca University Advancement Office #1200, Street Edmonton, AB T5J 3S8 Canada PAPER Open is printed on FSC -certified paper. open.athabascau.ca/2012

3 Contents 3 The campaign for Athabasca University. 14 News & Departments Features 2 PRESIDENT S MESSAGE AU is more than a university. 3 open our world The campaign for Athabasca University. 11 CMA ALBERTA AND THE FACULTY OF BUSINESS Sponsorship helps students win case competition. 12 investing in a healthy alberta Edmonton Oilers support nursing scholarships. 13 hutchinson architecture award A new $2,500 award for architecture students. 17 better writing, better health A fresh twist for AU s Writer in Residence program. 20 STATE OF MOBILE LEARNING IN CANADA AU study reveals where we re at and where we should be going. 21 EXPLORING THE FRONTIERS OF TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION AU s partnership with Xerox Canada. 25 students giving to students The student awards program of the AU Students Union. 27 A GIFT FROM THE HEART A Peace Country farmer bequeaths $50,000 to AU. 28 IN THE OPEN AU donates 48 laptops to launch the first computer lab at a Nepal public school. 4-5 opening doors to education Why the past and present chairs of AU s Board of Governors support AU. 6-7 giving back and paying forward Why AU s students and mission compel staff and faculty to give to AU because of athabasca university Profile: Denise Blair, MBA, creates a life-changing leadership program a river runs through it Protecting the Athabasca River Basin changes in reel time The Canadian Film Online project captures the history of Canadian film IT TAKES A GLOBAL VILLAGE Profile: Abraham Nhial Wei studies with AU from South Sudan. 26 inspired by a son s memory and donors support Profile: Dawne Price attends AU in memory of her son Connor. ON THE COVER Alumna Denise Blair, MBA (2010), in Calgary, Alta. Photo: Blaise MacMullin open-au.com OPEN SPRING/SUMMER 2012 NO. 5 1

4 President s Message More than a university Dr. Frits Pannekoek Athabasca University is not only a university it is a passion. It is an institution that reaches people who otherwise might not be able to attend university or would have incredible difficulty in doing so. At AU, we strive to remove as many barriers to learning as we can, and we re proud to announce another initiative supporting this mandate: the Open Our World fundraising campaign. This special edition of Open magazine is all about the campaign, and in these pages you ll see stories that exemplify our passion for our work and that bring to life the four key areas for which we are seeking funding. For our first key area, student awards, the remarkable stories of our students and alumni demonstrate the difference that awards make in their lives. For Denise Blair (MBA, 2010), a full scholarship not only made it possible for her to complete her degree, but it inspired her to create a leadership program for at-risk youth (8). For Abraham Nhial Wei, student awards will help him overcome the latest barrier financial in a long line of barriers to education that he faced while growing up in refugee camps in Africa amidst war and poverty. Wei is pursuing a Bachelor of Professional Arts from his hut in South Sudan (22). For our second and third key areas, learning innovation and research, we have stories on a number of projects that bolster both areas. Dr. Kinshuk, AU s NSERC/iCORE/Xerox/Markin research chair, shares the work he s doing with Xerox Canada on personalized mobile learning education delivered through smartphones that adapts to learners individual needs (21). Dr. Mohamed Ally, another leader in mobile learning research and the chair of AU s Centre for Distance Education, shares the findings from his study on the state of mobile learning in Canada funded by Rogers Communications (20). Finally, the feature on the Athabasca River Basin Research Institute (ARBRI) reveals the institute s plans for research on the Athabasca River Basin. The region encompassed by the basin includes an astounding diversity of flora and fauna, about 150,000 of Alberta s residents and a wealth of oil, gas and other natural resources. ARBRI s research, along with its efforts to improve collaboration among the many river basin stakeholders, will help to ensure the long-term sustainability of this region, which is undoubtedly one of Alberta s most important assets (14). In addition to research, ARBRI s work clearly falls into our fourth key area: community service. And so does the work of two other initiatives: the Canadian Film Online project (18) and the Writer in Residence program (17). In the past three years, I ve personally donated nearly $95,000 to AU. I ve contributed to initiatives that support our Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research as well as our research in and creation of open-access educational resources. The reason I give is simple: I believe in AU. I believe in this university and what it stands for: breaking down barriers. I believe that AU can play a part in changing the world, and I share the passion for this university s work that is also felt by our faculty, our staff, our friends and our partners. Furthermore, I know my gifts are making a difference. And so will yours. Frits Pannekoek, PhD President, Athabasca University 2 open.athabascau.ca/2012

5 The campaign for Athabasca University marks a special milestone for Athabasca University: the public launch of our first university-wide fundraising campaign, Open Our World. For over 40 years, we ve been working to remove barriers to post-secondary learning so that people anywhere in the world, no matter where they live or what other obstacles may stand in their way, can have open access to university education. With this campaign, we seek to reinforce our leadership in open-access, online and distance learning by focusing on four key areas: Student awards For many students, financial pressures can be an insurmountable barrier to learning. Bursaries, scholarships and other student awards help to break down the financial barrier and create more opportunities for people to achieve academic and career goals that otherwise would have been beyond their reach. Learning innovation AU is constantly expanding learning opportunities and embracing innovations, technological and otherwise, to remove barriers to learning. Learning innovation is essential for the university to remain on the vanguard of e-learning. Research Researchers in all faculties at AU are advancing knowledge in their respective fields and applying this research to AU programs and courses. We re also recognized around the world for our leadership in distance education research. Community service Strong, healthy communities provide the framework for our success as a university. We are committed to building communities through a wide range of initiatives that foster collaboration, leadership and innovation. Today, we stand at a crossroads. There is tremendous opportunity for AU as the world shifts to an economy based on knowledge as well as physical assets, but we are also challenged by the costs of developing our educational resources and by competition in the increasingly sophisticated field of e-learning. This campaign will ensure that we continue to open our world a world of opportunity for learners and for the communities we serve. Campaign timeline : We establish a goal of $30 million, and AU s leaders kickstart the campaign with personal contributions. For information about their support for the campaign and for Athabasca University itself, see the message from our president, Dr. Frits Pannekoek (opposite), and the profiles of our current and past board chairs, Barry Walker and Joy Romero (4-5) : Faculty and staff join the campaign (6) : We plan and prepare for launching the campaign publicly and sharing our campaign vision with our friends, partners, alumni and the many communities we serve : We launch the campaign publicly and continue working towards our $30-million goal. 2014: The campaign concludes. The results so far Thanks to over 300 donors who share our vision for removing barriers to post-secondary learning, we ve already raised 73% of our $30-million goal. Thanks so much to all of you! See the end of this issue for a full list of our donors. To find out more about Open Our World and ways to give, please visit: open.athabasca.ca/2012 open-au.com OPEN SPRING/SUMMER 2012 NO. 5 3

6 Feature Opening doors to education Opening doors to education Why the past and present chairs of AU s Board of Governors support AU. By Erin Ottosen Helping students, helping society Barry Walker, Chair of the Athabasca University Board of Governors (2009-present) Barry Walker at AU s 2011 convocation. For the past eight years, Barry Walker has served Athabasca University first as a public member of the university s Board of Governors and then as chair of the board since But Barry has watched AU grow from the very beginning, and he and his wife Valerie are leaving a legacy with the university that will allow it to continue to grow and contribute to the success of students and society. A chartered accountant, Barry has worked with clients in the Athabasca area since the 1960s, and his firm established a permanent office in Athabasca in 1985, a year after AU outgrew its original facilities in Edmonton and opened up its own permanent offices in Athabasca. He watched the Athabasca campus grow with interest, and he and Valerie took AU courses both for the sheer joy of learning and for professional development in their respective fields: accounting and early childhood development. When he was invited to join AU s board in 2004, he was happy to say yes. Within a year, he was chair of the board s finance committee, and five years later, he was chair of the board itself. In addition to serving on AU s board, Barry has been an active volunteer for many other community organizations, and so has Valerie. In the last few years, they decided to take their community service in another direction by creating student award endowments for the two post-secondary institutions that have played a major role in their lives: Grant MacEwan University, where they ve both worked as instructors, and AU. At AU, there are two Walker family awards for students at the beginning of similar career paths as Barry and Valerie one award is for accounting students, while the other is for counselling students who are focusing on services for children or youth in their practicum placement. We believe that in the long haul, the assistance you provide to students not only benefits the individual, but it benefits society as a whole, says Barry. Just as education helped Valerie and me become people who contribute to society, [assistance for students] sets them up to get their own education and become productive members of society who contribute in their own way. It might not be dollars and cents to educational institutions, but they will contribute to society. So we see our endowments as a way of giving back to society as a whole. The Walkers plan to continue adding funds to their endowments as long as we re around, he says with a smile. They ve also made a provision in their wills to top up the endowments with their estate. We want them to be a permanent legacy, not because we want any glory or any significant recognition. We re not people who need the limelight, he says. What makes us feel good is just knowing this is happening. We believe that in the long haul, the assistance you provide to students not only benefits the individual, but it benefits society as a whole. 4 open.athabascau.ca/2012

7 Opening doors to education It s important to always have some component of your life that s giving back. I love education and what it does for people, and I really love how AU provides people with more options in terms of ways to learn. Giving to the university and serving on its board has been very rewarding for me. A love for education and a love for AU Joy Romero, Former Chair of the Athabasca University Board of Governors ( ) Joy and Diego Romero at home. Without education, I m not quite sure what my life would look like, says Joy Romero. In my family I was that first generation that went to university. I came from a very modest background. Education is really what opened all the doors for me in my life and allowed me to provide for my family. Romero is an engineer and the vicepresident of technology development at Canadian Natural Resources Limited. She also graduated from Athabasca University in 2006 with a Master of Business Administration. Even though her free time is rare, she s never lost sight of her love for education and has always found time for education-related volunteer work. She s served as a school trustee, for example, and participated in programs that help high school students transition to university. [I did a lot of work around] trying to remove barriers and getting people involved in education, which of course is what Athabasca University is all about, she says. So when she was asked to join the board of AU in 2002, she couldn t resist the opportunity. Her final years on the board ( ) were spent as the chair, a position she likely earned because I didn t sit down, she says with a laugh. It wouldn t have been possible without the support of her family, who sacrificed some of their time with Romero as she attended to her board duties. My husband Diego also shares my conviction towards education, she says. And we also believe in giving back. You receive a lot in your younger years, and then you reach a point where it s your turn to give back. It s not just my husband and I, she continues. Our kids also respect that need to give back to community. They have a healthy respect for education and what AU stands for, so our whole family s always been really comfortable with our commitment to AU. At one point, Romero, her daughter and her dad, who was in his 80s at the time, were all taking AU courses for vastly different reasons. Her dad was studying civilizations for personal interest. Her daughter was a visiting student from the University of Calgary taking AU courses to round out her degree. And Romero was working on her MBA, a long-time goal of hers that she didn t muster the courage to pursue until she attended an AU convocation. I had no intention of doing my MBA any time soon, because I thought, I can t manage it, I don t have the time, she says. But watching people convocate, and listening to their stories of what they overcame to graduate I thought, if they can do it, I can do it. It was actually watching convocation that gave me the confidence to do my MBA. AU s convocation is such an inspiring thing. The Romeros have created a bursary for MBA students in financial need. They ve also contributed funds to scholarships for graduate students and are supporting the university with other long-term financial contributions. It s important to always have some component of your life that s giving back, says Romero. I love education and what it does for people, and I really love how AU provides people with more options in terms of ways to learn. Giving to the university and serving on its board has been very rewarding for me. open-au.com OPEN SPRING/SUMMER 2012 NO. 5 5

8 Feature Giving back and paying forward Giving back and paying forward Why AU s students and mission compel staff and faculty to give to their university. By Diane Morrison I feel a sense of pride James D Arcy, Registrar James D Arcy s decision to donate to Athabasca University is a reflection of both his belief in AU s mission to remove barriers to education and the opportunities he has received at AU because of that mission. D Arcy, AU s registrar, completed his AU Master of Business Administration with the support of the university. I incurred very little out-of-pocket expenses in the pursuit of my MBA, and I am grateful I was given that opportunity, he says. The MBA has strengthened my character, and it has definitely helped me in advancing my career. In addition to removing the financial barrier to his education, AU removed another barrier for him as well. The MBA program [accepted] my wide range of managerial experience in lieu of an undergraduate degree, he says. As a result of his MBA experience, D Arcy has allocated the majority of his donations to the university s student awards program. I feel a sense of pride knowing that my donations help others like me to achieve their educational goals. When the university fundraising campaign began in 2008, D Arcy heard a member of the campaign committee refer to AU as a family, and that message resonated with him. Having been a part of the AU community for several years, I could relate to that. I also thought that as a leader in a large department, it was an opportunity to lead by example. I ve been donating ever since. I grew up with AU Serita Smith, Coordinator, Advising Services Serita Smith has a connection to Athabasca University spanning 28 years. Both of her parents worked at the university, and she s worked at AU for more than 15 years. I grew up with AU being so much a part of my life. I believe that had a significant impact on my decision to donate, says Smith, who is a coordinator of student advising services. I have [also] been working with students from a service perspective for so many years, and I have had the rare opportunity to meet some of them face to face. I wanted to do something for them, because if it weren t for our students, we wouldn t be here. Smith has been donating to student awards for three years now. I was really pleased that I could decide where my donations would be used, she says. I like the flexibility of that. For her, donating has a pay-it-forward feeling, especially since AU s employee benefits have allowed her to pursue her own higher education without having to pay for the majority of the tuition. Because of this, I can afford to donate to help someone else achieve their goals, she says. The thought that I can contribute, even just a little bit, to struggling students education means a lot to me. 6 open.athabascau.ca/2012

9 Giving back and paying forward The ultimate in respect Dr. Judi Malone, Tutor, Psychology With a 15-year association with Athabasca University, first as a student, then as a tutor and a member of the Board of Governors, Dr. Judi Malone knows a great deal about AU. This university is more than an institution or an employer for me. I was on the advancement committee of the Board of Governors when the campaign was first introduced, and it made sense to me. If I believe in asking others to support our mission, why not demonstrate that commitment myself? she says. Malone donates to student awards. There are many important areas [to donate to], but awards make such a tangible and immediate difference in the lives of our students. Having sat on the Bryon Paege Memorial Award committee, I have reviewed student applications. I m always in awe of their resiliency and strength. I know what a difference an award and monetary support can make. Participation in the campaign also fits with Malone s values and reinforces her ongoing involvement with the university. I support our vision to remove barriers that restrict access to and success in university-level study, and I see this as having potential beyond our individual actions. As Sartre said, We must respect each other if we, as individuals, want to be as free as possible within a social order. Empowerment through education, through sharing and inspiring knowledge, is, for me, the ultimate in respect. We watched careers being transformed, but more importantly, we witnessed lives being transformed. For over 11 years, I was privileged to be part of an organization that really made a difference out there. It doesn t get much better than that. We witnessed lives being transformed Marilyn Wangler, Former Director of Marketing and Communications, Faculty of Business Marilyn Wangler believes in giving back, especially to an institution that has meant so much to her personally. Wangler retired from her position as director of marketing and communications for the Faculty of Business in While at the Faculty of Business, I witnessed, at a very personal level, the difference that Athabasca University made in the lives of our students and alumni, she says. We watched careers being transformed, but more importantly, we witnessed lives being transformed. For over 11 years, I was privileged to be part of an organization that really made a difference out there. It doesn t get much better than that. Wangler says it felt great when she discovered that her donation had directly affected the life of one particular student, now a graduate, who was the first in her family to earn a postsecondary degree. I believe that the first person in a family who pursues post-secondary education will lead to the second, and the third, and the fourth and so on. I think it s a great concept, and one that has so many beneficial domino effects for families and for society. open-au.com OPEN SPRING/SUMMER 2012 NO. 5 7

10 Feature Profile Denise Blair, MBA Because of Athabasca University How a full scholarship for AU s MBA inspired Denise Blair to create a life-changing leadership program for youth and their adult coaches. By Athabasca University Faculty of Business Denise Blair was working on a marketing plan assignment for her Master of Business Administration degree when the idea came to her. Something just clicked, says Blair, the founder and executive director of the Calgary Youth Justice Society and a 2010 graduate of Athabasca University s MBA program. In a very real way, everything I had studied came together in this idea. Her idea? A program she would eventually name In the Lead. It s a leadership program for young people who are commonly referred to as at risk teenagers who are engaging in high-risk behaviour. But really, these youth are at potential, she says. I saw a program that was different than any other. What if we acknowledged [that these youth] have leadership capabilities because of their challenges and their ability to rise above those challenges? What if we re overlooking young leaders with great potential simply because they re not using their strengths in conventional ways? Blair envisioned a program where teenagers would be paired with adult coaches who would focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses, listen and provide support, and ultimately believe in them. But that was only half the idea. The other half was to partner with a company that would give their staff a professional development opportunity to volunteer in the program as coaches. I needed a partner a business partner one that saw my idea not just as a compelling community investment opportunity, but a company that was ready to engage in a meaningful way with their people and values, says Blair. That company turned out to be Cenovus Energy, which is investing both human and financial resources in the program for the next three years. The outcomes have already been well beyond what we d hoped for, says Blair. In January, we held a graduation ceremony for our first group of young leaders, and I asked the coaches to send me a list of the gifts or sparks or strengths they saw in their young people and I had to edit some of them down because they were so long. We read the list for each one as they called the young person up to the front. You would have thought you were at Harvard. It was amazing. There were so many people in tears. I learned a lot, both personally and professionally, from being part of the program, says Megan Marshall, a volunteer coach and a community program advisor for Cenovus Energy. 8 open.athabascau.ca/2012

11 I saw a program that was different than any other. What if we re overlooking young leaders with great potential simply because they re not using their strengths in conventional ways? In partnership with Cenovus Energy, Denise Blair (MBA, 2010) has launched a leadership program that combines the interests of the for-profit and non-profit sectors. open-au.com OPEN SPRING/SUMMER 2012 NO. 5 9

12 Feature Denise Blair, MBA I ve been a mentor with other organizations, but the fundamental approach of this program focusing on what is strong with youth, not on what is wrong with youth was different and very appealing to me. A lot of making that shift in thinking comes through the coach training that happens before you re matched up with your young leader, she says. So for example, if someone has previously been labelled as really stubborn, [you learn how to] turn that into a positive perhaps they re actually very persistent. [For me and my] young leader, it gave us a clean slate right from the beginning. It made me look at all her amazing abilities and potential right off the bat and eliminated any judgment that could have happened. And I think it created an environment for us where, because it was so supportive and encouraging and positive, a lot more trust could be created. Marshall says the program reinforced her listening skills and her ability to be flexible and think on her feet. And she s carrying over these improved skills to both her personal life and her workplace interactions. The program supports leadership development for youth, but it also supports leadership development for the staff of Cenovus, says Blair. It s a truly innovative partnership between the for-profit and not-for-profit worlds, and it was inspired by my Athabasca University experience. Because of my MBA studies, I was able, for the first time, to develop a program through a business lens. And that made all the difference, she says. I used what I learned in marketing and ethical decision-making and human resources and leadership to really carve out what the program would look like. My MBA enabled me to transform my idea into a plan and then into reality. But more than that, Blair was inspired by receiving a full scholarship to complete her MBA. Without the Alberta Scholarship for Leadership in Community Service, a onetime-only AU MBA award made possible by a private donor and the Alberta Advanced Education and Technology Access to the Future Fund, she wouldn t have been able to enrol in the program. From the moment I received the scholarship, I knew I wanted to pay it forward by applying what I was learning to making a difference in my organization and in the community, she says. It was never about what I could get with my education, but how I could give with my education. One of the challenges for the MBA is tuition, which is equal to a lot of annual salaries in my sector, she adds. And for nonprofit leaders, it s an investment in your cause and your organization and making a difference in your community as opposed to furthering your own interest. There s no salary increase after you graduate, as there would be in business. But Blair s success with In the Lead demonstrates the creative and empowering possibilities that come about when leaders from the non-profit sector pursue an MBA. If we build into the capacity of leaders in this sector, it also builds the capacity of these leaders to make a difference, she says. And in Blair s case, that translates into making an incalculable difference in the lives of youth. Some of the coaches in this program will be that one person who the young people will look back on and think of as the one who changed their lives, says Blair. Because of Athabasca University, some kids who may not have made it are going to make it. I know their names. Because of my MBA studies, I was able, for the first time, to develop a program through a business lens. And that made all the difference. I used what I learned in marketing and ethical decision-making and human resources and leadership to really carve out what the program would look like. My MBA enabled me to transform my idea into a plan and then into reality. ALUMNA PROFILE Name: Denise Blair Program: MBA (2010) Location: Calgary, Alberta 10 open.athabascau.ca/2012

13 CMA Alberta and the Faculty of Business News CMA Alberta sponsors winning Faculty of Business teams Sponsorship complements CMA s recent accreditation of AU BComm. By Athabasca University Faculty of Business The accreditation process is difficult, and CMA Canada s standards are high. Athabasca University deserves to be acknowledged for its high-quality programs and the flexibility it offers to students around the world. AU Faculty of Business students practice for the 2012 CMA Alberta Board Governance Competition. The team pictured here placed second. Sponsorship from CMA Alberta recently enabled teams of students in Athabasca University s Faculty of Business to compete in two different case competitions, and in March, two of these teams placed first and second in the 2012 CMA Alberta Board Governance Competition in Calgary. I want to sincerely thank CMA Alberta for sponsoring the Faculty of Business teams, says Dr. Alain Ross, an assistant professor of e-commerce and one of the coaches for the teams. Their contribution was essential. Our students are from across Canada, and the travel costs would have made it hard for them to participate. But thanks to CMA, we were able to bring the students and coaches together for both a mock competition weekend and the competitions themselves, says Ross. These talented AU students have gained immensely from their participation. They ve developed new skills and knowledge that will serve them well, and I know they join in me in expressing thanks to CMA Alberta. The CMA 2012 competition has been one of the best experiences I have had so far as a full-time undergraduate student of AU, says Alexander Poulton, a member of the team that won second place. In case competitions, teams are given a complex business problem, called a case, and challenged to come up with the best solution for the problem. The sponsorship from CMA Alberta, which grants a professional designation in strategic management accounting, builds further on an already strong relationship between CMA and AU in September 2011, after a rigorous threeyear process, AU s Bachelor of Commerce (BComm) in Accounting was the first online bachelor s program to be accredited by CMA Canada. The accreditation process is difficult, and CMA Canada s standards are high, says Kara Mitchelmore, president and CEO of CMA Alberta and a student in AU s Doctorate of Business Administration program. Athabasca University deserves to be acknowledged for its high-quality programs and the flexibility it offers to students around the world. With the accreditation, students who complete the BComm with a minimum average of 75% are exempt from writing the CMA Entrance Exam. Instead, they enter directly into the Strategic Leadership Program, which is the final step required to obtain the CMA designation. We re pleased about the partnership we ve forged with Athabasca University, and we look forward to working together in the future, says Mitchelmore. FUNDER open-au.com OPEN SPRING/SUMMER 2012 NO. 5 11

14 News Investing in a healthy Alberta Investing in a healthy Alberta Edmonton Oilers scholarships support both AU nursing students and a healthy future for central and northern Alberta. These students will be the nursing professionals that communities across central and northern Alberta turn to for health-care leadership in the future. By Erin Ottosen This spring, four Athabasca University nursing students who live in central and northern Alberta received some extra recognition for their hard work when they were awarded $2,500 scholarships. The scholarships were created through support from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and were given to students with a minimum GPA of 3.6. We re delighted that the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation has recognized some of our most motivated, passionate nursing students with these scholarships, says Dr. Margaret Edwards, acting dean of the Faculty of Health Disciplines at AU. These students will be the nursing professionals that communities across central and northern Alberta turn to for health-care leadership in the future. Over 200 of AU s 1,000 Bachelor of Nursing (BN) students live in central and northern Alberta, in communities large and small. The focus of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation on this region meshes well not only with the location of many of AU s nursing students, but also with AU s mandate, Edwards says. We strive to serve rural and remote populations both in Alberta and beyond, so it was extra fitting to work with the foundation on creating scholarships that would help our nursing students stay in their communities while they complete their degree. In Alberta, a bachelor s degree in nursing has been the minimum educational requirement for working as an RN (registered nurse) since AU offers a Post-RN BN as well as a Post-LPN (licensed practical nurse) BN that prepares graduates to write the Canadian Registered Nurse Exam and apply for licensure as an RN. Two of the foundation scholarships were awarded to Post- RN BN students, while the other two were awarded to Post-LPN BN students. The investment from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation has had an immediate, positive impact on our students, and it will have a long-term impact on the quality of health care services for residents of central and northern Alberta, says Edwards. The foundation strives to demonstrate philanthropic leadership in the areas of youth, education, health and wellness, adds Natalie Minckler, executive director of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation. The scholarships we provided for students at Athabasca University couldn t be a better fit. It truly exemplifies our efforts to work together and make northern Alberta a better place to live. FUNDER CARING FOR THE FUTURE Creating healthy communities through learning opportunities. The scholarships from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation also support Caring for the Future, a fundraising campaign within Athabasca University s Faculty of Health Disciplines. This campaign complements the university-wide Open Our World campaign by raising funds for learning and research initiatives related directly to nursing, health studies and applied psychology. For more information on Caring for the Future, visit: caring.athabascau.ca 12 open.athabascau.ca/2012

15 Hutchinson architecture award News AU s new Hutchinson architecture award Hutchinson family creates $2,500 award for architecture students. By Erin Ottosen It s diverse enough to allow people an opportunity to explore how architecture fits in today s life and life in the future. Thanks to an endowment from Ralph and Janet Hutchinson, students in Athabasca University s new architecture program have the opportunity to apply for a $2,500 student award. The Ken and Janny Hutchinson Architecture Award recognizes the professional and academic achievements of students entering the architecture program at AU. Two awards will be given to architecture students each year, with the first set to be awarded this fall. The award is in honour of Ralph s brother Ken Hutchinson, a leading Alberta architect who has specialized in heritage architecture, leisure centres, and business and municipal projects throughout Alberta for the last 40 years. In all of his endeavours, he s been strongly supported by his wife Janny. Ken s had an outstanding career as an architect, says Dr. Frits Pannekoek, president of AU. He s defined many public spaces and restored many heritage buildings, but most importantly, he s been passionate about supporting both female and minority architects in establishing practice. With that in mind, the award s selection committee will give consideration to gender and minority equity, but all architecture students are welcome to apply if they meet the basic selection criteria. It s supposed to be diverse enough to allow people an opportunity to explore how architecture fits in today s life and life in the future, says Dr. Lisa Carter, AU s new Academic and Research Centre (ARC) in Athabasca. dean of AU s Faculty of Science and Technology. I m thrilled we re able to offer this award for our students. We re so fortunate to have the Hutchinson family contributing to the promotion of architecture at AU. AU s architecture program, the first online architecture program in Canada, was launched in 2011 in partnership with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). Called a Post- Baccalaureate Diploma in Architecture, the credential provides an alternative work-study path to professional architect licensure in Canada. The university is also developing a Bachelor of Science in Architecture as the pre-professional component of the program. The online architecture program is key to our mission of removing barriers to learning, says Pannekoek. In partnership with RAIC, we re helping to facilitate the entry of internationally trained architects into practice in Canada, for example. And with our use of innovative online teaching tools, the program has a unique approach for helping students understand and appreciate the many facets of architecture. For more information on the Ken and Janny Hutchinson Architecture Award, contact Dr. Lisa Carter, dean of AU s Faculty of Science and Technology: open-au.com OPEN SPRING/SUMMER 2012 NO. 5 13

16 A river runs through it The Athabasca River is over 1,500 kilometres long, while the Athabasca River Basin is roughly 159,000 square kilometres. Photo: Robert Holmberg 14 open.athabascau.ca/2012

17 A river runs through it (Athabasca River Basin Research Institute) Feature AU creates a hub for research and collaboration to help ensure a healthy future for the Athabasca River Basin and the communities that depend on it. By Erin Ottosen On warm days, when the weather s right, the Columbia Icefield meets the sun and melts. The melting is nearly indiscernible to human eyes, but the water that weeps away from the ice is enough to spawn not one, not two, but three major rivers: the Columbia, the North Saskatchewan and the Athabasca. As the Athabasca River wends away from the icefield, away from the Rocky Mountains and the B.C./Alberta border, it begins a northeast trajectory that will take it over 1,500 kilometres almost to the Saskatchewan border and through virtually every major industry in Alberta. The first community along the river, Jasper, is a centre for tourism. Then comes Hinton, where the first of five pulp mills operates on the banks of the river. Also near Hinton are coal mines, more tourist attractions and oil and gas activity. Later, roughly halfway up the river s path is Athabasca, with an economy fuelled by agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, tourism and education the town is home to the main campus of Athabasca University, the only university near the Athabasca River. Finally, not long before the river ends its journey at Lake Athabasca, it passes by Fort McMurray and cuts directly through Alberta s oil sands. The river is also more than a single channel. It fans out through hundreds of smaller rivers and creeks and lakes to many more communities that also depend on the water it brings. The swath of land nourished by the water flowing from the Athabasca River is called the Athabasca River Basin, and now, through the Athabasca River Basin Research Institute (ARBRI), AU is creating a non-partisan hub for research on the basin that will help Alberta chart a well-informed path for the future of this region. We re so lucky as a university to be right at the centre of the Athabasca River Basin, says Dr. Lisa Carter, dean of AU s Faculty of Science and Technology and the interim director of ARBRI, which was launched in It positions us perfectly for collaborating with all the basin stakeholders. Also, our online infrastructure gives us a virtual way to bring stakeholders together very helpful considering the residents of the basin are spread across 159,000 square kilometres of land. Everybody works in silos, she continues. This is what we ve realized. It s [The river] fans out through hundreds of smaller rivers and creeks and lakes to many more communities that also depend on the water it brings. very typical. Everybody has great ideas, but people don t talk to each other as much as perhaps they should. That s why we decided ARBRI was going to be an arm s-length collection of people who would share knowledge and bring in the biggest and the best ideas about the river basin and its management. Ultimately, we re a collection of knowledge. One way ARBRI is collecting this knowledge is in the form of the Bibliography of the Athabasca River Basin (BARB). BARB is extremely important, says Carter. Many different groups have repositories of information related to the Athabasca River and the basin, but these are sometimes not easily accessible for all stakeholders. I remember meeting once with people from one of the resource companies operating in the basin. They told us they had 10,000 reports sitting in a room and would have loved to have a centralized repository, so people could have easy access to them. That s one of the reasons we ve built BARB so that we have an open-access, interactive repository database containing reports, papers, dissertations and any other data and information that has been collected about the basin. That s the fibre that s going to bring about the interdisciplinary perspective on the basin that I m really passionate about, she says. To understand the basin, you have to look at it not just from one perspective you have to look at the whole picture. That s what ARBRI is doing with BARB. In 2009, ARBRI received $200,000 from the Imperial Oil Foundation to develop the bibliography. As a responsible energy supplier, our company has a duty to encourage innovative programs that engage the environmental awareness of Canadians, says Cindy Christopher, manager of environmental policy and planning at Imperial Oil Limited. Accordingly, the Imperial Oil Foundation works with organizations that advance education, conservation and understanding in the areas of air, land, water and energy. [BARB is] a valuable resource in supporting researchers, stakeholders, educators, students and the general public in accessing information on this important watershed. Led by Tony Tin, the head of digital initiatives and electronic resources at AU s open-au.com OPEN SPRING/SUMMER 2012 NO. 5 15

18 Alberta Peace River Peace- Athabasca Delta Fort Chipewyan Lake Athabasca Fort MacKay Athabasca River Jasper High Prairie Swan Hills Whitecourt Hinton Edson Slave Lake Athabasca River Athabasca Barrhead Westlock Mayerthorpe Edmonton Fort McMurray (Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo) Lac La Biche Columbia Icefields The Athabasca River Basin, pictured here in green, spans the entire province of Alberta and also enters into Saskatchewan. Map courtesy of Science Outreach - Athabasca The Pembina River is one of hundreds of tributaries of the Athabasca River. Photo: Robert Holmberg Library, BARB now contains over 27,000 items within an open-access, searchable online database. So far, research assistants hired for the project have been populating the database, but Tin has a much grander vision for BARB. My ultimate goal is that BARB becomes the go-to place to access Athabasca River Basin materials online, he says. We would like external researchers and scientists to contribute, along with government, industry and the general public. Meanwhile, with other initiatives like the inaugural ARBRI Day conference held in Athabasca in the spring, Carter is working to bring about river basin research both by AU faculty and external research partners. I m trying to begin a dialogue and spark interest so that researchers think about how to integrate their unique skills with river basin research, she says. For example, Dr. Frédérique Pivot, an AU assistant professor of geography, does research with drones, planes that fly without a human pilot inside them. [We re talking] about using the drones to study things such as snowmelt and wildlife migration, says Carter. The Government of Alberta is also funding two new research chairs for ARBRI through the Campus Alberta Innovates Program. One chair is in hydroecology and environmental health, while the other is in computational sustainability and environmental analytics. And with the Community Engagement Project, a new ARBRI project just beginning, ARBRI is reaching out to communities in the river basin to help them identify what they want their future to look like, how to get there and how to protect the river basin from a local perspective. The project is modelled on an earlier ARBRI initiative called A Study of Sustainability Options for Resource- Based Communities. [The sustainability study] created a template that worked, says Jim Sellers, project manager for both the sustainability study and the Community Engagement Project. What we did is our researchers met with stakeholders for the communities of Hinton and Grande Cache, and everyone worked through a list of questions that touched on all the social, environmental and economic needs of the communities. This helped them boil down what was most important to them in terms of sustainability planning. We now have researchers looking into the priorities that were identified, and they re developing specific recommendations that can then be tested with applied research. It s been very successful, because we ve been working collaboratively with community stakeholders, says Sellers. The Community Engagement Project is funded in part through $250,000 donated to ARBRI in 2011 by the RBC Blue Water Project. It is also supported by the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN), which has contributed $120,000 to ARBRI for the Community Engagement Project and the Hinton/ Grande Cache sustainability study. The funding we ve received from ARDN, the RBC Blue Water Project and the Imperial Oil Foundation has really helped us expand our work with Athabasca River Basin communities and stakeholders, says Carter. We ve been able to build relationships by working together, by bringing in people who otherwise might not sit at the table together. This sort of collaboration is what we need to do to ensure a healthy future for the province, and it s so exciting to me that Athabasca University is contributing to this collaboration through ARBRI. ARBRI will be, I think, Alberta s legacy for future knowledge keepers and also for improving the life and sustainability of the province. Visit the Athabasca River Basin Research Institute (ARBRI): arbri.athabascau.ca FUNDERS 16 open.athabascau.ca/2012 * Registered trademark of Imperial Oil Limited. Used under license.

19 Writer in Residence program News Better writing, better health New funder adds a fresh dimension to AU s Writer in Residence program. By Cathy Nickel Tololwa M. Mollel knows how to write good stories, and he s passionate about helping others do the same. Athabasca University s writer in residence for , Mollel works with students of all ages around the world to elevate the quality of their writing. He occupies what he calls the middle ground somewhere between cheerleader and critic, providing invaluable feedback that helps students hone their writing skills. Writing is always tough, and you do much of it in isolation, says the celebrated children s author and dramatist. It s also very personal. I can t write for people, but I can offer the good, honest, supportive advice that s required of any mentor. Funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts made it possible to launch AU s Writer in Residence program in 2010, and Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Joseph Boyden was the first author to hold the post. Continuation of those funds plus support from another community group is enabling Mollel to expand opportunities for even more writers. Last September, ZoomerMedia committed to funding a new facet of the program that will engage people who have a lifetime of stories to tell: seniors. ZoomerMedia publishes Zoomer magazine for the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP), Canada s largest not-for-profit association for people aged 45-plus and those who care for them. Writing is seen as a key to healthy aging, Mollel says of the group s interest in supporting this creative opportunity. It s a tool that can be used to support mental health as people advance in years. It s a way to look back on experiences and relive life. Writing is seen as a key to healthy aging. It s a tool that can be used to support mental health as people advance in years. In addition to helping more writers, expanding the horizons of the Writer in Residence program is also a way to build community, says Marilyn Dumont, a writing instructor in AU s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences who was instrumental in creating the program. It s a wonderful opportunity to partner with all kinds of organizations, she says. Writing offers value to people from age 22 to 82, and the Writer in Residence program is a great resource for writers, students and faculty. Still in development, the ZoomerMedia aspect of the program is likely to include in-person and online talks by Mollel, web-conferenced workshops, virtual space on AU s e-lab that will enable Tololwa M. Mollel, AU s writer in residence. CARP writers to connect and create their own e-portfolios, and writing-focused articles and videos for ZoomerMedia online and print publications. Working with them lets me spread my wings and think about different forms of writing, Mollel says. I can see how powerful writing can be as you get older. To find out more about the Writer in Residence program, visit: athabascau.ca/cll/writer-in-residence FUNDERS Photo: John Lucas, edmontonjournal.com open-au.com OPEN SPRING/SUMMER 2012 NO. 5 17

20 reel time Changes in The Canadian Film Online project captures the history of Canadian film with industry insiders and makes it available to everyone through AU s e-lab. By Omar Mouallem Canadian film icon Fil Fraser likes to joke that when I was making movies, we needed cameras the size of Volkswagens. Indeed, much has changed since his 1977 drama Why Shoot the Teacher? took a top prize at the Canadian Film Awards (now known as the Genies). Nowadays you can buy a couple thousand dollars of camera and editing equipment and produce screenable material, says the Athabasca University adjunct professor and the creator of AU s CMNS 610, a course that examines Canadian feature films and film policy. And, wouldn t you know it, this area of Canada s film industry the government policies that try to boost it is also seeing a major transformation. It was in the 1960s that the government started to develop film policies and funding programs. There was very little film production in this country before then, says Dr. Evelyn Ellerman, an AU associate professor of communication studies. Today, she says, there s a split in the industry between those who want government regulation and funding to continue and the free market people on the other side who say it s time to just back off and let the market look out for itself. This is why Athabasca University, with funding from the Canadian Heritage Canada Interactive Fund, is launching the Canadian Film Online (CFO) project this spring. The CFO project is a destination for commentaries, essays, databases, maps and video interviews conducted by Fraser, all covering the history and current state of the Canadian movie industry. It s one of many tools stored in AU s new e-lab. The e-lab is a virtual lab space where students can create and update portfolios, find peer support, take tutorials, participate in workshops and find free software tools just as you would go into a physical lab and open up a cupboard, and there would be tools that you could use for various experiments, 18 open.athabascau.ca/2012

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